The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recently awarded Jonathan H. Jaggar, PhD, Maury Bronstein Endowed Professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), a $2.3 million grant for his study titled “PKD proteins in endothelial cells.” The proposal’s goal is to provide a new understanding of how endothelial cells regulate blood pressure.
Blood vessels provide all of our organs with oxygen and nutrients and determine blood pressure in the body. Endothelial cells, which line the inside of all blood vessels, can cause blood vessels to relax or contract, thus controlling the body’s blood pressure. Endothelial cells stop working properly during vascular diseases such as stroke and high blood pressure (hypertension), but how this happens is not fully understood. Dr. Jaggar’s project is focused on identifying the functions of two proteins in endothelial cells called PKD1 and PKD2. His lab has new evidence that PKD1 and PKD2 physically couple in endothelial cells to relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. His group also found that that PKD1/PKD2 signaling is altered during hypertension, which in turn inhibits their ability to relax blood vessels. In this proposal, Dr. Jaggar’s team will test the hypothesis that physiological stimuli activate PKD1/PKD2 coupling in endothelial cells. They will investigate what causes this to happen and how it produces vasodilation. They will also study the relationship between hypertension and the breakdown in PKD1/PKD2 channel signaling and the vasodilation it makes possible.
This project, which is being funded for four years, will provide significant new information about vasoregulation by endothelial cell PKD1 and PKD2 proteins. “We are excited to drive this new research direction to better understand how PKD1 and PKD2 control our body’s blood pressure and determine what happens that prevents these proteins from lowering blood pressure during hypertension,” said Dr. Jaggar.